JONESBORO — Arkansas State head football coach Butch Jones announced Monday that A.J. Milwee has been named the Red Wolves’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Milwee comes to A-State after most recently spending the last two seasons on the same coaching staff with Jones at Alabama, where he has served as an analyst for the Crimson Tide in 2019 and 2020. Milwee has helped Alabama post an 11-0 record and a No. 1 spot in the College Football Playoff (CFP) rankings this season, while the 2019 squad capped off the year with a 35-16 win over Michigan in the Citrus Bowl to finish ranked No. 8 in the final AP Top 25 poll.
“We are very excited to welcome the Milwee family of A.J., Ashley, J.J. and Jett into the Arkansas State football family,” said Jones. “I’ve had an opportunity to work with A.J. on a daily basis over the last two years at the University of Alabama, and I’ve been very impressed with his work ethic, ability to foster and create relationships and his overall knowledge of offensive football.
“A.J. has coordinating experience and has proved that he can manage, motivate and direct an entire offensive unit, which includes not only players, but staff members as well. He is also regarded as a coach who can develop quarterbacks to play at the highest level.”
Prior to Alabama, Milwee spent seven seasons at Akron, including his last six as the Zips’ offensive coordinator. He joined the Akron staff as a quarterbacks coach in 2012, and at the time he was elevated to oversee the program’s offense in 2013 was the second-youngest coordinator (age 30) in FBS.
The 2017 Akron squad (7-7 overall, 6-2 MAC) soared to first place in the MAC East with huge victories over Ohio and Kent State to claim the division title and a spot in the MAC Championship game for the second time in program history and first time since 2005. Akron also advanced to an FBS bowl for the second time in three years, another program first. The Zips won their third consecutive Wagon Wheel (and fourth in last five years) over rival Kent State.
The same year, Akron posted 24 passing touchdowns that ranked as the third most in school history. Redshirt senior wide receiver Tra’Von Chapman earned third-team All-MAC honors. Senior running back Warren Ball, senior offensive lineman Xavier Quigley, and senior wide receiver Anthony Young earned Academic All-MAC honors, while Ball was named to the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District 5 football team.
Milwee mentored four quarterbacks throughout the season. Senior and three-year starter Thomas Woodson started the first nine games. He finished his collegiate career at No. 2 with 6,864 passing yards and No. 2 in career passing TDs (53). Redshirt freshman Kato Nelson took over the starting role, leading the Zips to wins over Ohio and Kent State as well as appearances in the MAC Championship game and the Boca Raton Bowl. Also seeing action were junior Robbie Kelley and sophomore Nick Johns, who also appeared on special teams.
In 2016, UA recorded a 5-7 overall record, finishing just one play away from back-to-back bowl appearances. The Zips won their second consecutive Wagon Wheel over rival Kent State.
Redshirt senior wide receiver JoJo Natson Jr. garnered second-team All-MAC honors, while junior wide receiver Jerome Lane earned third-team recognition. Nine Zips found a place on the Academic All-MAC team, including junior offensive lineman Xavier Quigley.
In spite of injuries that forced a rotation of three quarterbacks, the Zips’ offense set the school record for touchdowns (all passes) in a game with six in a win over VMI. Akron scored 25 passing touchdowns on the season, which were second most in the school record book. Natson ranked No. 21 nationally in receiving touchdowns (10), eclipsing the 100-yard receiving mark in two games.
Wide receivers Jerome Lane (New York Giants) and Natson (Indianapolis) signed rookie free agent contracts with NFL teams.
In 2015, Milwee mentored a corps of young quarterbacks, including sophomore Thomas Woodson who went 162-of-307 for 2,202 yards and 16 touchdowns in eight starts. Milwee also guided sophomore wideout Jerome Lane as he added receiver duties to his defensive skills. Lane was No. 12 nationally in yards per reception (20.05).
Senior offensive lineman Isaiah Williams was third-team All-MAC selection. Ten Zips earned Academic All-MAC honors, including three-time honoree quarterback Kyle Pohl, as well as offensive linemen Dylan Brumbaugh and Kyle Ritz. Brumbaugh and Pohl were selected as MAC Distinguished Scholar-Athletes.
Milwee was named to the inaugural American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) 30 Under 30 Coaches’ Leadership Institute in 2016. The prestigious program, sponsored by the American Football Coaches Foundation and NCAA Leadership Development, is aimed at training premier, future leaders in the football coaching profession.
The 2014 season saw senior Jawon Chisholm become just the fourth player in school history to eclipse the 3,000-yard career rushing yards. He finished with 3,403 career yards, second-most in program history.
Junior quarterback Kyle Pohl completed 208-of-383 passes for 2,189 yards, moving into fourth place in the Akron record book for career passing yards (4,993), all under Milwee’s guidance. Pohl earned Academic All-MAC honors and was a 2014 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team nominee.
In 2013, he guided first-year starter Pohl to a solid sophomore campaign. Pohl completed 225-of-402 passes for 2,438 yards, 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Several of Pohl’s numbers earned him a spot in the all-time single-season program rankings, including lowest percentage of passes intercepted (2nd, .025), completions (6th, 225), completions per game (7th, 18.8), total offense (7th, 2,534) and passing offense (8th, 2,438). Pohl also earned Academic All-MAC honors.
A record-setting signal caller at Division-II North Alabama, Milwee oversaw fifth-year senior transfer quarterback Dalton Williams’ prolific season in 2012. Williams achieved the program’s single-season record for touchdown passes (25) and pass completions (326-for-522), while his 3,387 passing yards ranked as the third most in a season in school history.
Additionally in 2012, the Zips set a program record and led the Mid-American Conference in passing yards (3,753) and touchdown passes (30). The team’s school-record 312.8 passing yards per game ranked 17th nationally, while its 427.2 yards of total offense per game ranked 45th. UA’s 5,126 yards of total offense was second most in program history, behind the 2003 squad’s 5,643.
Milwee came to Akron after one year on staff at East Mississippi Community College, helping the program to an NJCAA national championship. He spent the 2009 and 2010 seasons on Terry Bowden’s staff at UNA as a graduate assistant. While on the Lions’ staff, the program went a combined 20-6, made back-to-back playoff appearances and were 2009 Gulf South Conference champions.
Having compiled a 33-5 mark as UNA’s QB during the 2006-08 seasons, Milwee set all-time school records for career passing yards (8,436), pass completions (677), passing attempts (1,030), touchdown passes (73) and total offense yards (9,401). He earned honorable mention All-America honors as a senior and is a member of the program’s all-decade team (1999-2008). At UNA, he was a two-time finalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy, awarded annually to the nation’s top player at the NCAA Division-II level.
Milwee spent his freshman year of eligibility as a member of the Alabama football team. He holds an undergraduate degree in finance from North Alabama.
A-State names Harley defensive coordinator, assistant head coachHarley comes to A-State after spending the last six seasons as linebackers coach at Pitt, while also serving as the Panthers’ recruiting coordinator the last four years.
“We are excited to welcome Coach Harley, his wife Danielle and two sons, Paxton and Nash, into the Arkansas State football family,” said Jones. “Coach Harley has a national reputation as one of the brightest defensive minds in college football. He is an individual that teaches the details and fundamentals of what it takes to play winning football. Coach Harley also is an individual who is passionate and will be a great role model to our players and recruits.”
The 2020 Pitt defense allowed just 93.5 yards rushing and 339.5 yards total offense per game to rank fifth and 24th in the nation, respectively. The Panthers also led all FBS teams in total sacks (46) and tackles for loss (111), while posting 20 turnovers gained in 11 games for the 10th most in the country. Under Harley’s direction, linebacker SirVocea Dennis was tabbed All-ACC after recording 57 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks on the year. The sophomore’s 14.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage are tied for the seventh most in the nation.
Harley’s linebackers were also highly instrumental for a Pitt defense in 2019 that yielded only 312.9 yards per contest, ranking 15th nationally. The group combined for 16.5 sacks, helping the Panthers lead the nation in that category (3.92 per game, 51 total). The linebackers’ production was even more impressive considering the starting lineup was fully retooled from 2018.
Under Harley’s watch, graduate transfer Kylan Johnson enjoyed the finest season of his career with 10.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Johnson received Honorable Mention All-ACC recognition and signed as a free agent with the Miami Dolphins. Phil Campbell and Cam Bright, combined for nearly 120 tackles and 17 TFLs.
Another recent example of Harley’s ability to develop playmakers is Oluwaseun Idowu, who concluded his collegiate career in 2018 as one of the most prolific tacklers in recent Pitt history. Originally a walk-on, Idowu became a three-year starter, collecting 250 tackles during that span, and was an All-ACC honoree.
In 2016, the Panthers’ linebackers helped key a rush defense that finished 16th nationally, yielding just 119.6 yards per game. Matt Galambos enjoyed the best production of his career over the 2015-16 seasons, achieving personal bests in every category under Harley’s watch. Another productive linebacker from that 2016 squad, Bam Bradley, went on to play for the Baltimore Ravens.
In Harley’s initial season at Pitt, he oversaw the development of Nicholas Grigsby, a 2015 All-ACC performer who spent time with the Detroit Lions, New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams
Harley joined Pitt after spending the 2014 season as the linebackers coach at FIU, where he helped the Golden Panthers rank among the most disruptive defenses in college football. FIU ranked first nationally in fumble recoveries (19), second in defensive touchdowns (six), fourth in turnovers gained (33), eighth in turnover margin (plus-11 overall; 0.92 margin per game) and 35th in total defense (363.8 yards per game).
While at FIU, Harley recruited and coached linebacker Anthony Wint, who would go on to earn All-Conference USA honors and finish his collegiate career second in school history with 336 tackles. Wint went on to sign with the New York Jets.
Harley’s Pitt appointment served as a reunion with Pat Narduzzi. Harley was a graduate assistant at Michigan State for two seasons (2012-13) when Narduzzi was the Spartans’ defensive coordinator.
At Michigan State, Harley gained experience on both sides of the ball. In 2013, he worked with the linebackers and special teams, helping the Spartans to a 13-1 record, the Big Ten title and a 24-20 victory over Stanford in the Rose Bowl. Michigan State’s defense yielded just 252.2 yards per game to rank second nationally.
In 2012, Harley worked with the Spartans’ offense and special teams. Behind 1,793-yard rusher Le’Veon Bell, Michigan State earned a berth in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, where it defeated TCU, 17-16.
During the 2010 and 2011 seasons, Harley served as the defensive backs/linebackers coach and assistant special teams coordinator at Ohio Dominican University, an NCAA Division II program.
A former safety at Ohio State (2001-05), Harley earned three letters with the Buckeyes and was a member of their 2002 national championship team. In Harley’s final three seasons, Ohio State posted a 29-8 record, including two victories in the Fiesta Bowl (2003 and 2005 seasons).
A 2006 graduate of Ohio State, Harley has deep roots with the Buckeyes. His great uncle is the legendary Chic Harley, the first three-time All-American in Ohio State history.
Harley earned his bachelor’s in business administration from Ohio State. He additionally owns a master’s degree in kinesiology from Michigan State.